Kenneth George Whitcomb (7 March 1926, Battle Creek, Mich. – 3 August 1997, Riverside, Calif.) was an American composer. He also wrote under the pseudonym George Kenny.
After graduating from Central High School in that city, he studied saxophone for a time with Santy Runyon in Chicago and then joined the U.S. Army. For the next 14 years he was stationed at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he played clarinet and saxophone in the band and later became chief arranger and associate bandmaster. While at West Point he composed Jubilee March and, not knowing the army's policy on moonlighting, secretly sent the manuscript to a publisher under the pseudonym George Kenny. Not long thereafter the band was playing some new publications which included Jubilee March by “George Kenny.” As Whitcomb recalls, “before we got through the first strain one of the assistant band leaders yelled, ‘Hey, Ken, some guy has stolen your march!’ So much for being sneaky.”
After his tour of duty at West Point, Whitcomb was transferred to Germany to direct the American 30th Army Band. When he retired from active duty with the army, he moved to California where he studied film scoring with Eddy Mans and Walter Scharf and received an Associate in Arts at Fullerton College. He has since served as a free-lance arranger, a saxophone and woodwind specialist, and a composer of music for bands, orchestras, choruses, and various small ensembles. He has also been an arranger and featured performer for several years with the Disneyland Band in Anaheim, California. In 1982, Whitcomb was selected to arrange all of the music for the combined 540-member band, orchestra, herald trumpet section, and choir for the opening of the Epcot Center at Disney World, near Orlando, Florida. His professional associations include: American Society of Music Arrangers, National Association of Jazz Educators, National Band Association, and American Federation of Musicians.
Ken Whitcomb’s principal band works include Sessions in Sound, an elementary band method written in collaboration with Barbara Buehlman; Stonehenge, a descriptive piece for young bands; Elmo’s Fire, an overture; and the concert marches Band of Gold, Cavalcade, Coat of Arms, Colorburst, Fireball, Jet Stream, Jubilee, Medallion, and The Sheffordshire Regiment. Works for other media include: Gettysburg for orchestra; Pastorale for flute quartet; and Space Dust and Soliloquy for stage band.
Works for Winds
- 23 Skidoo! (1977)
- American Heritage Overture
- Armed Forces Salute (with Lichtenberger)
- Band of Gold
- Coat of Arms (1957)
- Elmo’s Fire
- Jet Stream
- Le Can (as arranger)
- The Sheffordshire Regiment (1975)
- Themes from "Doctor Zhivago" (as arranger) (1965/1966)
- Themes from "Zorba the Greek" (as arranger) (1964/1966)
- This Land Is Your Land (as arranger) (1940/1956/1958)
- Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 634.